A Warm Capitol Hill Homecoming For Mike Pence

"For us, Mike Pence is a friend," said Speaker Paul Ryan.

After recent infighting over funding the government, Republicans appeared Tuesday to put their differences on the back-burner to sing the praises of vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence.

"For Americans, Mike Pence is Donald Trump's running-mate, the next vice president. For us, Mike Pence is a friend," Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters following a morning meeting between Pence and House Republicans.

"Our members were excited to have him. We feel the wind at our backs," said Ryan, who has at various times been forced to disavow statements made by the Republican nominee.

Pence, for his part, said he and Trump's "respect and appreciation for Speaker Paul Ryan is boundless."

"You're going to occasionally have differences of opinion. But our goals are identical," Pence said.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the Republican Conference, called the Pence visit "a highlight of this year."

It's a notable change in tone from Trump's visit to Capitol Hill in early July, when he clashed with some Republican members.

Tuesday's meeting was "very positive," according to Florida Congressman Ted Yoho. Asked whether Pence was able to address members' concerns, he said: "A lot of them, yeah."

House members said Pence's experience — he spent 12 years as a member of Congress before becoming the Governor of Indiana — and devout conservatism helps sweeten the Republican ticket. "He's a solid conservative," said Texas Congressman Brian Babin. "He is a husband, a father; just a steady, conservative American patriot who has a great record."

Alabama's Gary Palmer said Pence "brings tremendous intellect to the campaign" and has "outstanding values."

Palmer said Pence also described getting to know a caring Donald Trump along the campaign trail. "That's a side of Trump that I don't think a lot of people have seen," Palmer said.

Pence met with Senate Republicans later in the day as well. “We had a good, productive meeting,” said Sen. Ted Cruz following the meeting.

Cruz, who used his convention speech to criticize Trump and has been one of the most high profile members of Congress to not endorse the GOP nominee, once again refused to do so. Asked about an endorsement, Cruz instead went on the attack against Hillary Clinton.

“Recent weeks have made clear Hillary Clinton is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. When you see Hillary Clinton stand up and describe tens of millions of Americans as deplorable, that level of contempt from a candidate for the people is really disappointing,” Cruz told reporters.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito cast the meeting as fairly mundane, saying Pence and lawmakers discussed the “economy, jobs, energy, broadening the base kind of topics that you’d expect. Nothing you wouldn’t expect.”

Capito did, however, acknowledge Pence said he was prepared to help Senate Republicans maintain their majority, which she said is “mutually important … both to keep the Senate and get a Republican president.”

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